Benesch’s Cannabis Industry Group is a nationally-recognized leader in the legal cannabis industry. As a leading provider of legal services in a dynamic and ever-changing area of law, we not only offer a full spectrum of legal services, we also help shape the policies that govern the legal cannabis industry and its future.
Our team of attorneys and professionals combines broad-based legal experience across numerous practices areas including corporate, health care, intellectual property, information technology, transportation and logistics, labor and employment, regulatory, environmental, litigation, real estate, construction and public law in both the private and public sector, in order to help our clients handle the business challenges and opportunities in this unique industry.
The firm’s attorneys have considerable experience across the country and understand the regulations and laws that vary by state. Benesch has the experience to help your business navigate through the multi-faceted and ever changing regulatory framework for the cannabis industry.
Of critical importance are the legal services related to the needs of licenseholders as well as underlying purchase or lease of real estate that will be utilized in connection with the operation of the cannabis-related business. Formation of investment vehicles necessary to fund these projects requires extensive corporate and securities expertise, and intellectual property protection is fundamental to marketing the finished product and building brands that will grow in value.
The legalities of cannabis also reach into the sphere of public policy. Currently, dozens of townships and municipalities are placing temporary moratoriums on cannabis operations as they weigh how to respond to the new and fast-changing laws. The attorneys at Benesch are able to help communities draft ordinances reflecting their sensibilities and core values.
Our range of experience is extensive and covers all areas to help businesses navigate the complex state licensure requirements applicable to cannabis cultivators, processors, and dispensaries as well as advising clients on medical and recreational cannabis programs and how such programs would affect business. Our cannabis practice is nationally ranked by Chambers® and our lawyers have received numerous state and national recognitions.
Benesch has the following practice areas that are routinely supportive of our cannabis industry clients:
Mergers & Acquisitions
Benesch's M&A and corporate finance lawyers regularly support our cannabis industry clients in the acquisition, sale and capital financing of assets and properties in their industry. One of the core aspects of our M&A practice involves representing private equity firms. Our work with these sophisticated and exacting clients and their portfolio companies keeps us current and familiar with legal issues, market norms and best practices that impact merger and acquisition activity by companies associated with this fast-paced and rapidly-evolving corner of the capital markets.
Benesch provides its legal cannabis clients with various services related to intellectual property. In an industry that is relatively behind in intellectual property protection, Benesch ensures that clients focus on the protection and monetization of intellectual property by developing custom strategies for intellectual property portfolios and acquisitions. To this end, Benesch helps its clients in drafting patent applications, trademark applications, as well as copyrights related to cannabis. Benesch helps clients organize and monetize technology through brand and technology licensing, as well as business structuring specific to intellectual property, giving flexibility to make future decisions on intellectual property. Benesch’s deep experience allows it to borrow techniques and strategies from more developed industries, and implement them in the cannabis space.
Transportation & Logistics
Benesch increasingly counsels clients in the cannabis industry on regulatory and contractual matters relating to their transportation and logistics activities. We have significant experience in transportation and logistics management, in all transportation modes, on a regional, national, and global basis. Seven of the Group’s attorneys have held management and legal positions at various transportation firms, which gives us valuable industry perspectives and a practical, deep and broad knowledge of the regulatory and legal regime. We regularly assist our clients with the drafting, negotiation, and revision of shipper, carrier and broker contracts, warehouseman contracts, cross-docking arrangements, customs brokerage contracts, regional and local last mile and related services agreements, and a plethora of other transportation and logistics contracts in the industry. The group is also well-experienced at preparing and negotiating warehouse operating and pick-&-pack agreements for major distribution center activities.
Benesch has a nationally recognized real estate group. Our commercial leasing practice assists clients nationwide, including life science, pharma and cannabis industry clients, with leases for production, testing, manufacturing, cultivation, distribution and retail facilities. Benesch’s team of real estate attorneys counsels clients through the complexities of land use and zoning, joint ventures, private placements and public offerings, ground lease financing, mortgage loans, mezzanine debt and securitized assets. Our related construction practice assists with architect and contractor negotiations, contracts and disputes.
Labor, Employment and Benefits
Our Labor & Employment Practice Group supports our M&A and Cannabis practices with due diligence, employment and restrictive covenant agreements and other matters. The group also counsels employers on current best practices and strategies for handling issues most employers face today, including wage and hour compliance, immigration, internal investigations, individual and group discharges, employment policies, handbooks, training, and releases.
Benesch has a dedicated Tax Practice Group that provides a solutions-oriented approach to tax planning issues involving corporate, partnership, mergers and acquisitions, sales, reorganizations, bankruptcy, real estate and venture capital transactions. Our tax group has experience with structuring and planning under Code Section 280E.
Cannabis is a consumer product. While cannabis has a unique regulatory framework, cannabis issues cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Benesch’s breadth of experience in consumer product law allows it to not only analyze issues from a cannabis regulatory standpoint, Benesch also has the ability to approach these issues with decades of experience in more developed industries, giving Benesch a competitive edge to pass along to its clients. Benesch advises its cannabis clients in a wide array of consumer product matters, including, TCPA actions, drafting and negotiating supply agreements and terms and conditions, product labeling, recall issues and policies, data privacy and security, product design and marketing, diversion, and regulatory compliance.
Benesch has a national litigation practice. On a daily basis, our litigation attorneys are involved in virtually every type of business dispute. Benesch’s litigators actively pursue cost-effective outcomes in courtroom litigation and dispute resolution for clients that include multi-national and publicly held companies, private companies, profit and non-profit boards, municipalities and other government entities, lenders, insurers and individuals. In cannabis, Benesch litigation attorneys handle administrative appeals, dispute resolution, contract disputes, intellectual property disputes, TCPA actions, and challenges to cannabis licenses awarded to its clients.
Represented springbig, the largest loyalty and marketing automation platform to serve the cannabis Industry, in entering into a definitive agreement for a $500 million de-SPAC transaction where springbig is expected to be listed on Nasdaq through a merger with Tuatara Capital Acquisition Corporation. The merger accelerates springbig’s visions to serve cannabis brands by consolidating a highly fragmented cannabis technology ecosystem across loyalty, data analytics, advertising, and other areas influencing consumer experience and marketing effectiveness.
Represented California cannabis company The Parent Co. its acquisition of dispensary and delivery company Coastal Holding Company for stock consideration.
Represented GTI, a leading national cannabis company and owner of Rise™ and Essence retail stores, in matters including a cultivation license from the Ohio Department of Commerce, following an appeal. The cultivation operation will be located in Toledo as part of a processing and manufacturing facility that will also produce GTI’s branded product portfolio.
Represented Caliva, a direct-to-consumer cannabis brand, as real estate counsel in its acquisition of multiple licensed cannabis operations and several newly awarded dispensary licenses, all in California.